Müller and Waitrose partner on ditching colored milk caps

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

Eight out of 10 shoppers said they would choose milk with a clear cap that could be recycled over a colored one that could not. Pic: Müller
Eight out of 10 shoppers said they would choose milk with a clear cap that could be recycled over a colored one that could not. Pic: Müller

Related tags Müller Milk Plastic Recycling Recyclable materials

Dairy company Müller is partnering with retailer Waitrose in the UK on a trial to scrap blue, green and red caps used on milk bottles, replacing them with clear caps.

The move could boost the availability of recycled high-density polyethylene (rHDPE) on the market by 1,560 tonnes a year.

Unlike fully-recyclable plastic milk-bottles, colored milk caps cannot currently be recycled back into food-grade packaging. Introducing clear caps enables retention of the material for reuse within the food sector.

With higher demand for rHDPE than supply, by keeping the material within a ‘closed loop’ system, there can be more rHDPE available on the market, further reducing dependency on ‘virgin’ plastic.

Research conducted by Müller, which buys a fifth of all milk produced on Britain’s farms, shows consumers support the change, if it further improves the availability of food-grade recycled plastic material.

Müller found slightly more than half of all shoppers look for the color of milk caps when selecting their milk in store, while others either use the different colored labels, remember the previous location in the fridge or use the fixture signage.

But eight out of 10 shoppers said, given the choice, they would choose a bottle of milk with a clear milk cap that could be recycled into food grade material, over a colored one that could not.

Following years of collaboration with Waitrose and a successful in-house trial, Müller is further partnering with the supermarket to trial in all 331 of its stores, from April 4 to 30.

Müller’s fresh milk bottles are manufactured in-house, they are 100% recyclable and contain up to 40% food grade recycled material.

Liam McNamara, commercial director at Müller Milk & Ingredients, said, “Everyone is thinking more about what they buy, the nutritional benefits, the value it represents and the packaging used.

“We want to be the partner of choice for our customers, we recognize the commitments they are making in this area, and following a successful trial period, then this is another step we can offer.

“As the first dairy company in the UK to trial clear caps on fresh milk, we are working hard to innovate and lead in issues that are not only important for customers, but for consumers too.

“In an industry that needs access to more rHDPE, we are really excited to collaborate with Waitrose across all of their shops and trial this additional solution. Our fresh milk bottles already contain up to 40% recycled material, but with access to more, we can partner with our customers to increase this further.

“But we will not stop there, we are also looking at ways to add recycled content into our clear-caps.”

Karen Graley, packaging innovation lead at Waitrose, said, “As food businesses, we need to do more to protect our planet from unnecessary plastic waste so we’re delighted to be involved in this trial.

“We have a proud heritage of being first to trial step-change innovations in this space - from rolling out the UK’s first refillables in-store to removing single use plastic toys in children’s magazines, and we are proud to be working alongside Müller to show that leadership again.”

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